Not just bears go into hibernation in the winter: In Massachusetts, some staple restaurants of summer shut down for brief interludes, some for weeks and others for months. It’s a sign of light at the end of the winter tunnel when these businesses — from ice cream shops to seafood huts — begin to reopen.
Here’s a look at what’s open again and what’s coming back soon.
This guide was originally published on January 25, 2019; it is being updated through the late winter and early spring as more reopening dates are announced, and the date of the most recent update appears above.
Barlow’s Clam Shack
856 Scenic Hwy., Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts
Located just past the Bourne Bridge, Barlow’s Clam Shack is known for its fried scallops, along with lobster rolls, fried clams, and ice cream. There’s indoor and outdoor dining available. The restaurant opened for the season on April 7.
The Buffalo Jump
277 Hatchville Rd., East Falmouth, Massachusetts
Brandon Baltzley and Laura Higgins-Baltzley relaunched their Falmouth restaurant on April 12. The duo first partnered with Coonamessett Farm in 2016, running pop-up dinners before eventually establishing a permanent (but seasonal) restaurant in 2017. The Buffalo Jump focuses on Cape Cod cuisine, sourcing from local producers and serving breakfast, lunch, and a kids menu during the day, with a multi-course, reservations-only tasting menu for dinner.
Cape Pier Chowder House
79 Pier Rd., Kennebunkport, Maine
This waterfront restaurant is now open seven days a week, with plenty of deck seating and even more seafood. Customers can order boiled lobster dinners or plates full of oysters, clams, fish and chips, calamari, scallops, and even chicken fingers. There are also chowders, grilled seafood and chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, clam and crab cakes, and sides like fries, onion rings, and coleslaw.
The Clam Box
789 Quincy Shore Dr., Quincy, Massachusetts
As of March 1, the Clam Box (not to be confused with Tony’s Clam Shop, just down the street, or with the Clam Box of Ipswich) has reopened for the season. Its vantage point overlooking Wollaston Beach provides a classic backdrop for enjoying piles of fried seafood along with burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and more. The restaurant operates 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, with the caveat of weather-permitting. “Call if unsure,” the website reads.
The Clam Box of Ipswich
246 High St., Ipswich, Massachusetts
Another Clam Box, located on the North Shore, is open as of February 11, operating Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Serving a vast selection of fried seafood, the Clam Box in Ipswich emphasizes cleaning and filtering its frying oil each day, and its commitment to the routine has made it one of the most frequented North Shore fried seafood stops. Plus, it’s shaped like a literal box of clams.
Cusser’s Roast Beef & Seafood
304 Stuart St., Boston, Massachusetts
The casual window-service counterpart to Mooncusser Fish House reopened Monday, April 8. Operating weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Cusser’s serves New England classics like roast beef sandwiches and lobster rolls, as well as hot dogs, fish tacos, swordfish souvlaki, and whoopie pies, among other items. Customers can grab food to go or eat inside.
331 North Ave., Weston, Massachusetts
This seasonal, family-run establishment has operated since 1961, serving a lineup of soft serve, sherbet, sorbet, and raspberry lime rickeys, along with lobster rolls, hamburgers, fried clams, and more. It reopened on Sunday, March 24, at 11 a.m. Last year’s new vegan ice creams return this season, as do Dairy Joy’s traditional dairy-filled flavors, such as javaberry and marble twist. Note: Dairy Joy is cash only.
2335 Main Rd., Tiverton, Rhode Island
A staple in Tiverton since 1969, Evelyn’s Drive-In is now open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. The restaurant serves seafood, most famously a two-pound platter of fried cod, whole belly clams, sea scallops, calamari, shrimp, and clam cakes, plus sides of fries, cole slaw, and tartar sauce. In theory, this should serve two to three people, or one very hungry individual. There are also lobster rolls, fish and chips, lobster chow mein, and pan-grilled sea scallops.
Formaggio Sidewalk BBQ
244 Huron Ave., Cambridge, Massachusetts
With warmer(ish) weather finally here, Formaggio has restarted its weekend barbecue as of April 20; it operates on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Huron Avenue location, and it’s slated to run through the first weekend of November. The menu features smoked brisket, chicken, pork shoulder, baked beans, potato salad, and coleslaw, plus assorted sides and biscuits. The full menu is available online, and customers can call before 4 p.m. on Fridays to place pre-orders.
Exit 40 off Route 128, Wakefield, Massachusetts
As of April 1, owner Carl Galasso has reopened Fred’s Franks for the season. The operation specializes in grilled hot dogs and sausages and serves a signature “shnurble,” which consists of one of the business’s all-beef Pearl hot dogs, chourico sausage, sweet cabbage, and mayonnaise with special sauce. There are also burgers, brats, and chips.
Gracie’s Ice Cream
22 Union Sq., Union Square, Somerville, Massachusetts
As of January 24, Gracie’s Ice Cream is back in business in Somerville. The shop, named for the owner’s daughter and filled with fun flavors, switched into its full-time, seven-day schedule on March 11, according to a recent installment of the Gracie’s newsletter. This year, Gracie’s has an “ice cream mixtape” series that incorporates new flavors along with stories, and the latest is called “I’m Shy and I Have a Crush on You,” a vanilla ice cream with vanilla cremes, Vienna wafers, and Nilla Wafers.
Hingham Lobster Pound
4 Broad Cove Rd., Hingham, Massachusetts
This family-owned-and-operated establishment has been in business since 1958. It closes for the season each year around Christmas and reopened this year on March 27. Hingham Lobster Pound slings plates full of fried and grilled seafood, chowders, sandwiches, fries, onion rings, and more.
Nantasket Beach, 50 George Washington Blvd., Hull, Massachusetts
Jake’s, open since 1949, made its seasonal return on April 1, featuring plenty of fried seafood, lobsters, sangria, local beers, and more. Jake’s also has a retail seafood market.
88 Eastern Ave., Essex, Massachusetts
Keeping to its pattern of opening on the first Friday in March each year, J.T. Farnhams is back in business for the season. From whole belly fried clams and lobster rolls to seafood chowder, J.T. Farnhams keeps to the seafood shack menu and is situated with views of marsh and wildlife to take in during warmer months.
400 Littleton Rd., Westford, Massachusetts; 1543 Lunenberg Rd. (Rt. 70), Lancaster, Massachusetts; 343 Bedford Rd. (Rt. 225), Carlisle, Massachusetts;
Kimball Farm entered its 80th season on March 28 with the opening of its Westford ice cream stand. Operating seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., the ice cream stand serves 50 flavors, plus sundaes and splits. There are also counterparts in Lancaster and Carlisle, which opened April 4, and another in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, that opened April 11.
321 Commercial St., Provincetown, Massachusetts
This P-town mainstay returned for its 40th season on April 12. Look for the neon sign, and prepare to eat lobster in a variety of ways — ravioli, tacos, egg rolls, arancini, pot pie, and lots more (including, of course, whole). The restaurant features a couple of dining rooms with waterfront views, and when summer rolls around, there will be a raw bar outside the building as well.
The Lobster Shanty
25 Front St., Salem, Massachusetts
This Salem staple reopened on April 1, serving an array of fried seafood, chowders, salads, burgers, and classic entrees like fish and chips, boiled lobster, and baked shrimp, along with spicy crab cakes, lobster Rangoon, and poutine.
Mabel’s Lobster Claw
124 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport, Maine
Mabel’s Lobster Claw opened for the season in April, and it serves a vast selection of starters, sandwiches, and seafood entrees. Open for lunch and dinner, Mabel’s serves stuffed clams, lobster sliders, crab cakes, stuffed mushrooms, linguine scampi, lobster mac and cheese, baked stuffed lobster, and more. A section of the menu honors “seafood shack faves” served with fries and cole slaw, and there are some accommodations available for gluten-sensitive diners.
Ogunquit Lobster Pound
504 Main St., Ogunquit, Maine
An 88-year-old seasonal establishment in Maine is reopen for the season as of March 15. The restaurant has a choose-your-own lobster option and has a wide selection of baked and grilled seafood dishes, plus lobster pie, rolls, stews, and bisques. It also offers pasta dishes and a full bar.
Phil’s Old-Fashioned BBQ
589 Elm St., Milford, New Hampshire
As of March 27, Phil’s Old-Fashioned BBQ reopened in New Hampshire. The mobile smokehouse truck typically operates Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., though the hours are subject to weather and stock. There are ribs, brisket, and smoked chicken and sausage, with options for plates or sandwiches as well. Note: Phil’s is cash only.
The Raw Bar at Island Creek Oyster Farm
401 Washington St., Duxbury, Massachusetts
Back for a second season as of May 3, Island Creek’s outdoor Raw Bar features oysters, caviar, tinned fish, shrimp cocktails, and more, not to mention beer and wine, a fire pit, and lawn games. Keep an eye out for special pop-ups and events at the Raw Bar this summer, too.
35 Dodge St., Essex, Massachusetts
Riversbend celebrated its opening week in early April and now operates Thursday from 5 to 9:30 p.m., Friday until 10 p.m., Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. The restaurant serves wood-fired pizzas, seafood, and more.
Roy Moore Lobster Company
39 Bearskin Neck, Rockport, Massachusetts
This long-running seafood shack reopened for the season on April 10, operating 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. It specializes in boiled lobsters and offers outdoor patio seating.
Sullivan’s Castle Island
2080 Day Blvd., South Boston, Massachusetts
Castle Island’s famous hot dog stand is open as of March 1, ushering in an early start to the outdoor dining season. The stand sells all manner of fried seafood, lobster rolls, hamburgers, hot dogs, and french fries, plus breakfast sandwiches and ice cream.
Tony’s Clam Shop
861 Quincy Shore Dr., Quincy, Massachusetts
Down the road from the Clam Box, Tony’s Clam Shop made its return March 28. Tony’s serves beachside broiled and fried seafood, lobster rolls, falafel platters, and more.
Listed in approximate order of reopening date
Louie’s Ice Cream
193 Broadway, East Somerville, Massachusetts
Signage posted at this classic East Somerville ice cream shop promised a March reopening with a “few surprises.” March and April have come and gone, but perhaps May? Stay tuned.
12 Federal St., Nantucket, Massachusetts
The Pearl is on track to reopen May 15, in time for the Nantucket Wine Festival. Run by Seth and Angela Raynor, who also own the Boarding House on Nantucket, and known for its salt and pepper wok-fried lobster, the Pearl also serves cocktails and wine.
The Boarding House
12 Federal St., Nantucket, Massachusetts
Right by its sister restaurant, the Pearl, the Boarding House serves a compact menu that features seafood dishes like lobster spaghetti and pan-roasted halibut, plus steak frites, vegetable sides, and crab Rangoon. Just like the Pearl, the Boarding House will reopen this spring ahead of the wine festival.
This guide will be updated as more restaurants reopen or announce a reopening date; email email@example.com with any tips.